Periel graduated in architecture at the ETSAB (attached to the UPC), and has worked since 1989 in Barcelona City Council's Urban Projects Department. She has also taught at the Eina design school since 1994.
The Urban Elements Department of Barcelona City Council was created in 1988 in order to set in motion an intensive renovation programme of Barcelona's street furniture, adapting it to the city's new needs with a modern line and consolidating a new urban identity. New selection criteria gave place to new curbs, benches, lighting and bus shelters, elements that had a clear formal simplicity and fit anywhere in the city, that was at the same time undergoing an urban transformation for the Olympic Games.
Màrius Quintana, who was at first responsible for this department, and Montse Periel, undertook the activity of selecting the new street furniture, which the City Council used for the purpose of creating a continuity or prolonging the identity of the city. They called various competitions to give shape to this, and the selected pieces had to account for their design, manufacturer, and an estimation of their maintenance costs. Some well-known elements of Barcelona are from that period: the advertisements column of Tonet Sunyer and Jordi Badía; the Nu bench and the Pep Streetlamp by Jordi Henrich and Olga Tarrasó; Josep Mª Civit's telephone booth; the Lamparaalta Streetlamp by Beth Galí and Màrius Quintana; the planters Barcina by Jaume Bach and Gabriel Mora and Plaza by J. A. Martínez Lapeña and Elías Torres; Carme Fiol's tree grids; the Via Júlia markers by Josep Mª Julià and Bernardo de Sola; Jaume Artigues' Levit bench; the columns Nikolson by Pedro Barragán, Josep Mª Julià and Bernardo de Sola, and Prim by Pedro Barragán; Antoni Roselló's ice-cream stands and ONCE kiosks; the advertisement and bus stands Pal·li by Canosa, J. A. Martínez Lapeña and Elías Torres; the V-60 dropped kerb (a curb with a mechanical cut which has made the city's streets and avenues accessible) by Rafael Cáceres, or the V-120 dropped kerb and the Mòdul-V glass entrances to the subway and parking lots by Montse Periel and Màrius Quintana; and the Línia handrails by Montse Periel. In short, the department sought to repeat the same elements to meet identical needs, generalize services and systematize urban solutions.
According to Periel, "A city must be integrally planned. Its urban design must lead to a modification in the citizen's habits. It must avoid, then, formalism and what is superfluous, and succeed in moving in the deepest way possible. Its main aim must be to integrate the object into the urban environment."
Proof of this is the projects that she has carried out, some in collaboration with other architects of recognized prestige, in which the elements of furniture are integrated so that there is a global urban vision. Examples of this are the Cathedral square in Barcelona, carried out in 1991 with Màrius Quintana, Plaza España (1997), Plaza Urquinaona or Avenida Meridiana, in collaboration with A. Montes (1999 and 1995, respectively), Plaza Olivereta (1995) and the Gran Via (1997). Periel also designed the Negra urban chair (1993, with Màrius Quintana), the Zeta tree grid (1997), the Trapecio bench, together with Antonio Montes (2002) and the Línea handrail (1993), the last two published by Santa & Cole.